On the Grand Trunk Road: A Journey into South Asia
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Available for the first time in paperback, Steve Coll's trek across a socially and politically damaged South Asia
Bestselling author Steve Coll is one of the preeminent journalists of the twenty-first century. His last two books, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Ghost Wars and New York Times bestseller The Bin Ladens, have been praised for their creative insight and complex yet compelling narratives-and have put him on par with journalists such as the legendary Bob Woodward. Now, for the first time ever, the paperback edition of On the Grand Trunk Road is finally available, revised and updated with new material. Focusing on Coll's journeys in conflict-ridden India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Afghanistan as a bureau chief for The Washington Post, On the Grand Trunk Road reveals a little-seen area of the world where violence, corruption, and greed have had devastating effects on South Asians from all walks of life.
at these schools; some used the materials and training supplied by the CIA and ISI to carry out car bombings and other assassination attacks in Kabul under ISI direction. By Yousaf’s account, a graduate of the urban-sabotage school nearly blew up future Afghan president Najibullah in downtown Kabul in late 1985. Another time, rebels placed a briefcase bomb loaded with plastic explosives beneath the dinner table of a group of Soviet professors at Kabul University; when it went off, at least
with fresh vigor. But what worried them seriously were the sizable sections of the old order that must inevitably be left to crumble. Nehru’s planners deliberately constructed factories, plants, and industrial infrastructure in places where it did not make economic sense to build such things. The purpose of these programs was to provide employment and growth in areas neglected by the British, such as the interior tribal belts, or to dole out patronage rewards in the complex balancing act of
as dark as night and the Congress pols—mainly fat men wrapped in great robes of white khadi—lay flopped on their first-class bunks, asleep, snoring. Bending and peering in search of familiar faces, we could not help thinking that we had stumbled abruptly into the land of the dinosaurs. Fortunately for India, Rao is different—gentle, scholarly, fluent in nine languages, seemingly possessed of many of the virtues and few of the vices of his generation and class. Boldness, however, is not in his
the grandest and most attractive conspiracy theory of all. The opposing assumption is that political events are shaped more often by pedestrian human incompetence than by cunning. This is my view and I cling to it, provisionally. There is plenty of historical evidence on each side. In the case of the Zia crash, I could have spent the next few years wandering around in the hall of mirrors, searching for the Devil. It was tempting. The other choice was to go back to South Asia, back to work. I
Tiruchelvam, a lawyer and research analyst whose ability to articulate questions of political morality in a country that seems to have so little of it is truly astounding. I asked about the legacy of state murder. “There are very deep scars, I think. In the southern areas there are so many people who are victims of violence or people who have been tortured and who are still struggling to reconstruct their lives. There is very little support for them in terms of emotional support, legal support.